When you become pregnant for the first time, there are a million questions running through your head. One of these is probably – is it okay to exercise while you’re expecting a baby? The simple answer is YES, it’s absolutely okay and pretty important to stay active and maintain a regular exercise routine even when you’re pregnant. In fact, staying active during your pregnancy has a lot of health benefits – it can help you maintain a healthy weight through your pregnancy, reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, strengthen heart health, minimize pregnancy-related back pain and other aches, reduce constipation, help prepare your body for labor, promote a better mood, and can even help with a faster post-partum recovery. It’s also extremely beneficial for your unborn baby.
Before you begin planning your pregnancy exercise routine, here are a few safety tips to keep in mind:
- Consult your doctor before you begin any exercise routine as each pregnancy is different and it’s safest to get a go-ahead from your doctor.
- Before starting any workout or exercise, always do a light warm up and once you’re done, don’t forget to take a few minutes to cool down as well.
- Don’t overdo it. Stick to a light to moderate exercise routine. According to experts, pregnant women can exercise for about 30-45 minutes at a time, 5 days a week. However, the most important thing is to LISTEN to what your body is telling you. There are days when you will have more energy and days when you won’t feel like getting off the couch. Go easy on yourself.
- If you feel like something is wrong or you notice any odd signs such as swellings, lightheadedness, any kind of bleeding, contractions, stop your exercise and speak to your doctor as soon as you can.
- After your 16th week, avoid doing any exercises that involve you lying flat on your back.
- Avoid exercising in a hot environment as you don’t want your body temperature to rise too much.
- Dress comfortably and support your body with the right clothing when exercising.
- Drink lots of water both before and in between your exercise routine and make sure you’re eating properly to avoid any drop in blood sugar.
Here are 4 easy prenatal exercises that you can safely practice in the comfort of your own home.
Squats are an excellent pregnancy exercise as they help build your lower body strength and also improves hip mobility and flexibility, which is greatly helpful during labor. While there are many different methods of doing squats during pregnancy, here is a simple and safe technique that you can practice easily without any additional equipment.
- Stand in front of a sofa, facing the opposite direction and leaving a little space between you and the sofa.
- Keep your legs slightly apart just outside of your hips in a comfortable position.
- Hold your arms comfortably in front of you or put them on your waist.
- Start squatting slowly and stop right before you touch the couch or chair. Keep your knees over your toes as you bend.
- Breathe out as you go downwards and breathe in as you come up.
- Do it at a pace that is comfortable for you but try and go as slowly as you can.
- Do this in 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions each.
2. Pelvic floor exercise
Your pelvic floor muscles are the muscles that stretch between your pubic bone in the front to your back bone. These muscles come under a lot of pressure during pregnancy and childbirth and thus become weaker during this time. That’s why it’s extremely essential for pregnant women to practice pelvic floor strengthening exercises. Here’s one that can be easily practiced regularly to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.
- This pelvic floor exercise can be done in any position – standing, sitting, lying down or even while you’re on all fours.
- Start by squeezing your pelvic floor muscles inwards and upwards, tightening them as much as possible.
- Once you have squeezed them in as far as you can, hold that position for a few seconds and then slowly release. Inhale as you squeeze in and exhale as you release.
- You might not be able to hold this position for too long at first so you can start by holding it for a few seconds only and then building up the time as you go along. Try and aim to hold it for at least 10 seconds once it becomes easier for you.
- Do this 5-10 times at one go and repeat it a couple of times a day.
3. Bicep curls
Once the baby arrives, you’ll most likely be holding and carrying him/her for long periods of time. Strengthen your arms beforehand with this easy bicep exercise.
- For this, you’ll need a pair of dumbbells that you can comfortably hold (anything between 3-8 pounds should be okay)
- Sit on a chair without touching the back of the chair. Keep your back upright and feet on the ground. Hold your dumbbells in each hand, with your arms touching the side of your body and your palms facing forward.
- Slowly bend one arm, bringing it all the way down and then back up to your shoulder.
- Repeat this with the other arm. Do this in 2 sets of 10-15 reps and give yourself a break in between.
4. Leg lifts
Strengthen your leg muscles with these easy leg lifts that you’ll be able to do even as you progress in your pregnancy.
- Use a yoga mat for this one. Lie down on your right side with your legs straight and over each other. Support your body by putting your right elbow firmly on the ground with your hand on your head if need be. Keep the other arm lightly on your waist.
- Slowly lift your left leg upwards, keeping it straight as you go up. Lift as high as you can comfortably.
- Then, start bringing your leg down slowly and stop just before it touches your other leg
- Repeat this 10 times.
- Then, switch your position and lie on your left side. Do this with the other leg the same number of times.
- You can do 1-2 sets or whatever feels comfortable to you.
Once again, if you do feel any discomfort or notice any odd symptoms before, during or after exercises, stop and consult your doctor immediately. Happy exercising, Mummas!